Can Trevor Lawrence Be an Immediate QB1?
Throughout their history, the Jacksonville Jaguars have been one of those snakebitten clubs that just can’t seem to draft and develop a true franchise quarterback. It certainly hasn’t been for lack of trying.
The Jags have accrued double-digit losses in 10 of their last 11 seasons and that futility has provided plenty of draft capital. Unfortunately, the team has misfired on multiple young quarterbacks including top-10 picks Blaine Gabbert and Blake Bortles, who fizzled out quickly once being anointed starters.
After a disastrous 1-15 campaign in 2020, the Jaguars earned the top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and with it came the obvious pick In Trevor Lawrence, who just might be the most heralded rookie signal-caller since Andrew Luck.
Along with a new quarterback, Jacksonville will also trot out an entirely rebuilt staff. Interim GM Trent Baalke was promoted to general manager in January and owner Shad Khan made a big splash by hiring former Florida and Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer to lead the new regime.
Combining an aggressive and successful college coach with one of the most polished collegiate quarterbacks in recent memory makes a ton of sense for a franchise in desperate need of another reset.
With Lawrence expected to be handed the starting job beginning in Week 1, fantasy football enthusiasts want to know if the hype is real and if Lawrence can become an immediate QB1.
Lawrence's Scouting Report
Following in Deshaun Watson’s footsteps at Clemson wasn’t easy, but Trevor Lawrence had experience doing so. Lawrence broke many of Watson’s high school records in the state of Georgia before landing at Clemson and succeeding Watson two years after the latter left for the NFL.
Lawrence did more than an admirable job as Watson’s successor, leading the Tigers to another national title as a freshman in 2018 and runners-up in 2019. Dating back to high school, Lawrence has never lost a regular-season game, which is a testament to his athleticism and leadership.
While Dabo Swinney’s spread offense lit up NCAA scoreboards, Lawrence has the size, arm and poise to be an immediate impact starter in the NFL and to be the perfect fit in today’s RPO spread.
As a thrower, Lawrence displayed tremendous touch and timing on a variety of routes and a willingness to stand in the pocket, read the defense and challenge defenders downfield. Last season, Lawrence completed over 69% of his passes, averaged 10.3 adjusted yards per attempt and compiled a career-best 169.2 QB rating.
At 6-foot-6 and 220 pounds, Lawrence has prototype NFL size and can also be a factor as a runner. In three seasons at Clemson, Lawrence ran for an additional 943 yards and 18 scores. John Paulsen’s rookie QB model projects Lawrence to rush for nearly 300 yards in 2021, which would provide a nice boost to his fantasy potential.
Jacksonville's Supporting Cast
In addition to providing solid rushing production, Lawrence’s arm and processing ability make him an intriguing fit in Urban Meyer’s aggressive offense. And while recent results haven’t necessarily panned out, Jacksonville boasts an underrated group of young skill-position talent.
No. 1 receiver D.J. Chark reportedly added 10 pounds this offseason in an attempt to be stronger and faster on the perimeter. While Chark struggled to repeat his 2019 breakout numbers last season due to injuries and abysmal QB play, reinforcements to Jacksonville’s receiving corps should alleviate some of the extra coverage Chark commanded in 2020.
Free-agent addition Marvin Jones will give the Jaguars an upgrade opposite Chark and provide Lawrence with another dangerous downfield weapon. Fellow veteran Phillip Dorsett was also added as a potential deep-threat, while sophomore slot receiver Laviska Shenault will benefit from the infusion of talent.
In the backfield, Jacksonville used the No. 25 pick in the 2021 NFL Draft on Lawrence’s college teammate RB Travis Etienne, who many pegged as the top back in this class. Etienne flashed three-down potential at Clemson and provides Meyer another potential big-play, versatile weapon.
Incumbent starter James Robinson had unprecedented success as an undrafted free agent rookie, rushing for 1,070 yards and housing 10 touchdowns as the premier waiver wire addition a year ago. While Robinson will undoubtedly cede touches to Etienne, it gives the Jaguars a superb backfield duo who can be further supplemented by new power back Carlos Hyde.
Tight ends weren’t very involved in Jacksonville’s previous offense and that will probably remain unchanged under Meyer. Veteran James O’Shaughnessy caught 28-of-38 targets in 2020 but remains far off the fantasy radar. Ditto for fifth-round rookie Luke Farrell, who was recruited by Meyer at Ohio State but used mainly as an in-line blocker.
- Volume will be the key to Trevor Lawrence’s 2021 fantasy outlook. With the Jaguars being in full rebuild and the addition of an aggressive scheme championed by Urban Meyer and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell, Lawrence will have no shortage of opportunities.
- In a similar situation last season, first-year starter Joe Burrow averaged more fantasy points per game than Matthew Stafford and Drew Brees before succumbing to a season-ending knee injury in Week 11.
- Jacksonville’s 2021 schedule, which includes two matchups against Houston and Tennessee as well as tilts against the New York Jets, Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, also gives Lawrence and company seven games against defenses that surrendered below-average fantasy points per game to their opponents in 2020.
- The influx of talented young signal-callers into the NFL over the past five seasons will make it hard for Trevor Lawrence to compete for elite fantasy numbers in his first season but he certainly will be in a good position to be a quality starter who should post plenty of top-10 fantasy outings in Year One.
- Per Underdog ADP, Lawrence is being selected in the ninth round as the QB14. That valuation seems spot-on as Lawrence has the talent to produce several big fantasy outings but comes with enough risk to warrant some caution in season-long formats.